Apr 27, 2009

The Most Distant Water Ever Detected

-FUPPETS- is always interested in scientific discoveries which expand our world. Recently, it was noted that ever more complex organic molecules are being discovered in inter-stellar space. Now, scientists are announcing the discovery of the most distant water molecules ever analyzed.
The image below (click to enlarge) shows a gravitationally lensed quasar. The galaxy in the center is the one that acts as a gravitational lens. The four lensed images of the quasar are visible.

The water emission is seen as a maser, where molecules in the gas amplify and emit beams of microwave radiation in much the same way as a laser emits beams of light. The faint signal is only detectable by using a technique called gravitational lensing, where the gravity of a massive galaxy in the foreground acts as a cosmic telescope, bending and magnifying light from the distant galaxy to make a clover-leaf pattern of four images of MG J0414+0534. The water maser was only detectable in the brightest two of these images. - ( Science Daily )

This object is so far away that the radiation from the water maser was emitted when the universe was 2.5 billion years old, about a fifth of it's current estimated age. Due to the rapid expansion of the Universe, the quasar is 19.5 Billion light years away, even though the Universe is only around 14 Billion years old. At one time the universe expanded faster than light. Awesome.

Water has been around for a long while.

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